Robert McCrum Global MS-DOS Expert

I’ve reviewed Robert McCrum’s book Globish: How the English Language Became the World’s Language. You can read about it in a coming issue of Multilingual.

But what is with the McCrum obsession with Microsoft throughout the book?


The back cover claims “English+Microsoft=Globish.” Inside, we’re informed “that Anglo-American culture and its language have become as much a part of global consciousness as MS-DOS…” and that somehow Windows ‘95’s launch led to the dot com goldrush in the late 1990’s. Excuse me?

Is young McCrum trying to be cool and hip with techies?  Is he down with the kids on the street? And why does he never acknowledge that any Microsoft software is localized (mind you, sometimes I wonder too)? The impression is it’s all Globish. McCrum’s Microsoft-centric insight into globalized technology reminded me of this (please try to contain yourselves):

(Disclosure: I worked on the Russian version of MS-DOS 5.0, but that was cool)

When was the last time Rockin’ Robbie typed DIR at the C:/ prompt?  Sure, he knows about the history of the English language, but when it comes to the technology aspect, MC Crumb is Da Bomb, but not in a good way.

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Ultan Ó Broin
Ultan Ó Broin (@localization), is an independent UX consultant. With three decades of UX and L10n experience and outreach, he specializes in helping people ensure their global digital transformation makes sense culturally and also reflects how users behave locally. Any views expressed are his own. Especially the ones you agree with.

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